By Raymond Nava
Americans will not be getting free community college thanks to Joe Biden and Progressive Democrats in Congress.
Last Tuesday, CNN reporter Manu Raju reported that President Joe Biden told progressive democrats that he was dropping his proposal for free community college from his Build Back Better reconciliation bill.
This was confirmed by Progressive caucus leader Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who said that the free community college proposal was not a priority, despite them touting the proposal for months.
This move is infuriating for many reasons, and both Joe Biden and the Progressive House Caucus deserve blame.
At his joint address to Congress earlier this year, Biden said he would deliver free community college and later said his build back better bill would include it.
Progressives for the past few months have also been touting the bill as having free community college.
All of this happened despite the lack of support from key democrats.
This can almost be taken as false promises or even a bait and switch.
Progressives not fighting to keep free community college in the reconciliation bill is also incredibly disappointing.
Progressives last month threatened to vote down a bipartisan infrastructure bill unless the reconciliation bill they were pursuing was passed first.
This effectively gave them leverage to ensure conservative Democrats didn’t kill or water down the reconciliation bill once the bipartisan infrastructure bill was passed.
For them not to push back against the removal of the free community college proposal shows they aren’t interested in using the leverage they have
At a televised town hall hosted by CNN last Thursday, Biden revealed that he dropped his free community college proposal because of opposition to it from Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, two conservative Democrats from West Virginia and Arizona, respectively.
Manchin and Sinema were heavily invested in crafting the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
They technically have no power since progressives in the House of Representatives could sink it if they wanted to.
But instead, Biden has chosen to give them all the leverage and agree to cut policies he proposed, such as free community college, and isn’t doing anything to push back against them.
The progressive caucus has the chance to use their leverage but has completely blown it.
In addition to free community college being dropped, other portions of the reconciliation bill have been dropped or severely downsized.
The whole point of threatening to vote down the bipartisan bill was that progressives would have leverage against conservative Democrats not to whittle the reconciliation bill down.
But yet, that is precisely what’s going on.
Free community college was the most prominent policy that had the easiest chance of becoming law, not to mention the most straightforward win for Democrats, and still, they throw it all away.
With no free community college plan in the reconciliation bill, it’s almost unlikely it ever happens until another few years.
This will go down as a significant loss for Biden and the progressive caucus, and voters will not forget this.